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Champions League draw: USMNT stars set for showdown in Round of 16

Champions League draw: USMNT stars set for showdown in Round of 16

The second-round pairings for the 2023-24 UEFA Champions League are set following Monday’s round of 16 draw in Nyon, Switzerland. All eight knockout stage matchups are listed below, with quick takeaways from each one.

Arsenal vs. Porto

Back in the Champions League for the first time in six seasons, the Gunners look like genuine title contenders. With all respect due a Porto side that finished tied on points with Barcelona, Arsenal should cruise into the quarterfinals.

Barcelona vs. Napoli

Advancing to the last 16 is an improvement for Barcelona after being eliminated in the first round in each of the last two seasons. But Xavi’s team doesn’t have an easy path to its first quarterfinal appearance since 2020, with Italian Scudetto holder Napoli more than capable of knocking out the five-time European titlists.

Manchester City vs. Copenhagen

Defending champions Man City couldn’t have asked for a better draw, with the Danes perhaps the weakest of the 16 remaining teams. But FC Copenhagen has already beaten the Sky Blues’ crosstown rival Manchester United in this tournament while also holding Bayern scoreless in a tie in Munich last month.

Paris Saint-Germain vs. Real Sociedad

Kylian Mbappé & Co. are hell-bent on hoisting club soccer’s most coveted trophy for the first time. But after finishing as the runner-up in 2020 and making it back to the semis the next year, PSG failed to reach even the quarters the last two years. Is the current team, sans Neymar and Lionel Messi, any better?

Inter Milan vs. Atlético Madrid

Inter narrowly lost the 2022-23 final to Man City, and the Serie A leaders have a strong enough squad  to make another deep run this spring. Still, Monday’s draw didn’t do the Nerazzurri any favors. Atléi is a formidable foe — while Diego Simeone’s team isn’t having the best La Liga campaign, they finished above Lazio, Feyenoord and Celtic to win Group E.

PSV Eindhoven vs. Borussia Dortmund

The four U.S. men’s national team players still alive and kicking in this season’s Champions League play for these two teams. Gio Reyna’s Dortmund would normally be the favorite, but this PSV side — which features Reyna’s fellow Americans Sergino Dest, Ricardo Pepi and Malik Tillman — impressed in the group stage and is a perfect 16-0 in the Netherlands’ Eredivisie.

Bayern Munich vs. Lazio

After being soundly beaten by the eventual champs Bayern  in last season’s last eight, Bayern are looking to win it all for the first time since 2020. With Harry Kane breaking scoring records in Germany just about every week, Lazio will be hard-pressed to prevent them from returning to the quarters at least.

Real Madrid vs. RB Leipzig

It’s no shock that record 14-time European champions are the bookies’ overwhelming favorite to dispatch Leipzig. What’s surprising is that both City and Bayern have better odds of winning this year’s competition outright. With the seemingly unstoppable Jude Bellingham leading Real, bet against Los Blancos at your own risk.

Doug McIntyre is a soccer writer for FOX Sports. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a staff writer with ESPN and Yahoo Sports and he has covered United States men’s and women’s national teams at multiple FIFA World Cups. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.

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